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Canal College - heritage skills training course

October 2014

Canal College is an exciting outdoors heritage skills training programme for young people living in Edinburgh or Falkirk. It is designed as a Stage 3 level programme for 16-25 year olds who are not in employment, further education or training. Volunteers complete the 14 week course on the Forth & Clyde Canal, Union Canal and at The Falkirk Wheel. There are no tuition fees and all reasonable travel expenses are paid.

Working with Scottish Canals, the organisation responsible for the management and development of Scotland's canals and The Falkirk Wheel,  canal college will give young people the chance to build their confidence and gain the skills they need to get on the pathway to work

Canal College was launched in June 2013. Four 14-week programmes have been completed to date and Programme 5 is currently mid-way through. The last programme begins February 2015.

There have been 135 Participants (16-25 years old) and 19 Volunteers (mentors). The project target was 144 Participants.

Project Structure

  • 6 fourteen-week programmes in Edinburgh
  • 6 fourteen-work programmes in Falkirk

The fourteen weeks are split into four elements

Natural Heritage

Invasive and protected species; surveying techniques; ancient woodlands; lichens; fungi.

Nature Photography

Built Heritage

Repair and maintenance of canal structures; traditional lime mortaring.

Stone carving

Cultural Heritage

Historical research; heritage trails; oral history interviews.

Visit to archives

Signature Projects

Edinburgh: Calders Gateway Project – Creation of new woodland gardens and an improved canal access point to the Union Canal in Edinburgh.
Falkirk: Working with archaeologists on a partial excavation of a historic lock flight which used to link the Union and Forth & Clyde Canals

Archaeological investigations


Positive Destinations

Completed Programmes to date 1 to 4

Definition:  if a participant finds paid work, a work placement, secures a further education place, paid training course, accredited qualification or takes up a further volunteering opportunity, that participant has demonstrated a positive destination.

Destination Number of Recorded Destinations
Work 23
Work Placement 11
Paid Training 7
Further Education 12
Accredited Qualifications
Including Rural Skills, Youth Achievement Awards, LANTRA, First Aid, RYA Helmsmanship
Volunteering 11
Total 117*

* Some participants recorded multiple positive destinations.

No. of Individual Participants Recording a Positive Destination = 71

Positive Destinations = 61%

The full illustrated report can be downloaded here (PDF format.)

Mor information about the project can be found on the Scottish Waterways Trust website.